If you want to create a wedding that is truly personal to you then a marquee allows you to do just that. You get the chance to build your wedding space from the ground up and have full control over the look and feel, as well as your choice of suppliers which will all impact on the experience your guests will have. Typical wedding venues often have their own distinctive aesthetic, whereas a marquee is a truly blank canvas. You literally have layers and layers of white canvas to play with and to style to your liking. Which is both an incredibly exciting opportunity and a daunting one to boot.
How do you even know where to begin with such a task? Well, there's plenty of logistical planning elements to consider first of all, from the location – be that on your own land or a hired space – through to all the extra bits and pieces you are going to need like power, water, waste facilities and extra loo's. I really can't stress enough how important it is to go through all the practicalities before you turn your attention to the look and feel. An experienced marquee wedding planner can save you so much time and prevent the inevitable headaches that come along with planning a marquee wedding so seek out some help.
Once you have all of that locked down it's time for the fun part: the design. For me it's definitely the best aspect, I love nothing more than taking that blank canvas space and transforming it into a dream space for my clients. Even though so many of them have a great vision of what they want their day to feel like, almost every one of them faces the same dilemma: “We just don't know how to pull it all together so it looks like a cohesive design.”
It's definitely not the easiest of tasks and we've learned so much over the last eight years of planning weddings in all kind of spaces, from lavish mansions, to abandoned warehouses, to tents of all kinds including clearspan marquees, Sperry tents, teepees, traditional canvas pole tents and even stretch tents. We've learned what works and what doesn't, we know what's needed and what just gets lost. So now when we start to design a marquee wedding we know exactly which finishing touches and styling elements will bring the occasion to life and wow everyone there.
Here are my top tips for marquee wedding styling:
Make a Grand Entrance
You want to focus on making the entrance to your marquee as welcoming as you would make your own home. Think about ways to make the entrance visually appealing – does it need a dedicated pathway of stones or matting? How will this be lit – with an overhead canopy or candlelight lined? Do you want flower displays flanking the entrance or something more wow-factor like a meadow-garden hedging leading the way inside?
Create the Wow-Factor
Once inside you want to create an instant feeling of wow-factor. People will take in the whole space first of all, so add instant drama with a statement piece such as a full-scale backdrop behind the top table or a bespoke installation hanging overhead. Those huge ceilings are really just calling out for creative decor, so work with your wedding stylist and floral design teams to come up with something unique and inspiring that will grab people's attention. Hanging florals and greenery just has such a magical feel to it.
Divide Your Space Into Zones
Don’t try to fill every inch of the tent with decor and details, instead focus on creating a few key zones so there's a nice flow for your guests to follow. You'll want a chill-out lounge zone; a bar area, your dining zone and the dancefloor entertainment zone as a minimum. You could even add in more of a reveal aspect by keeping certain areas closed off until they are ready to be used, such as the dancefloor and lounge being separate to the dining, this keeps guests guessing and adds to the whole experience as new spaces are revealed.
Choose the Right Flooring
There are many different types of flooring available from rustic coir matting through to boarded flooring and carpet, again think about the type of experience you wish to create here. If you're happy for it to feel quite rustic and laidback then coir should be fine, if you want something more refined and elegant go for a boarded floor. Make it feel more homely by adding in rugs around your lounge zones too.
Furniture As Design
It's more than just functional but a design element in its own right so choose your marquee furniture wisely, from your dining chairs and tables through to your lounge seating, they all offer you the chance to create a certain feeling: darker woods add warmth, lighter woods look fresh and organic, metal adds a funky edge, ghost chairs give a contemporary twist whilst colour adds interest.
Bring the Outside In
The beauty of creating your marquee wedding is that you're likely choosing a really rural and bucolic setting, so make the most of it and play up any features the landscape provides. Most marquee companies can do such clever things with their marquees, like building them around trees, fountains, even pools! So bring them into the design.
It's a given that any design features you choose should mirror the landscape you're working within so your marquee space blends well. We're absolute suckers for organic-feeling design elements, so you'll always find plenty of wild florals and foliage featuring heavily in our designs.
Interactive Stations Get Guests Talking
These help to keep things fresh, ensuring guests have different things to explore throughout the day. So think about how to make your guestbook more inviting, create a photobooth station with a funky backdrop or play to your favourite vices with a tequila station, a mix-your-own gin bar or a (temporary) tattoo parlour. Dessert and cheese grazing stations always go down a storm too, often a full 3-courses can be too much, so give your guests the option of grazing on a range of delectable treats throughout the evening.
Lighting is Key to Creating Ambiance
The style of lighting you choose can really make or break the ambiance so choose it well and consider how the lighting will change as you transition from day to night. We're not massive fans of artificial or coloured lighting over dining zones, instead preferring the romantic glow offered by candlelight, saving the funky lighting for the more upbeat portion of the evening: the dancing. Lighting is not only functional but another way to add a design statement – beautiful teardrop crystal chandeliers will add elegance, a canopy of naked Edison bulbs offers industrial chic, chandeliers made from rope and wood offer a more rustic aesthetic, whilst fairy lights over the dancefloor can feel so magical.
Don't forget the outside too – we love to see trees and shrubs lit up at night, they just look incredible. Also consider lighting pathways and any outside seating zones for your guests with torches, candlelight, festoons or even Tom Dixon pendants hanging from trees. Yes, we've been known to do this!
Pocketful of Dreams are UK wedding planners and marquee wedding experts, creating authentic celebrations and considered gatherings. They create impeccably designed and flawlessly executed weddings, events and experiences. Read more of their wedding planning advice and stylish take on wedding styling ideas.